Empowering individuals to build a stronger community
Can you imagine a library where you cannot check out books? Can’t even touch one until you ask for it by name? And there’s no card catalog, no computer?
Librarian Debbie Chavez traveled with Librarians without Borders to spend time at a school library in Guatemala. She said they visited the only two public libraries in Quetzaltengo, the second largest city in Guatemala. The first was one of the public libraries that is run by the Bank of Guatemala, located in the town center. It sits next to the bank and is open bank hours, Monday – Friday, 8 am – noon and 2-6 p.m. The library consists of one room, with tall shelving along two sides. The books are very dated, with just a few children’s books. People may not browse the collection since the stacks are “closed stacks.” Even though the books are right there within a person’s reach, only the librarian can pull the books off the shelves.
There’s a card catalog that people can look through to see what book they’d like to use. The books may not be taken out of the library. The bank purchases new books and sends them to each library. There are 64 such public libraries scattered throughout the country. The librarian told us that the people who use this library tend to be university students who use the space to study, and they normally bring their own books with them.
Quetzaltenango Municipal Library
The second public library that Chavez visited is run by the municipal government and is just down the street from the first one, in the bottom floor of the museum. There are “Silencio” signs everywhere.
This library also has closed stacks, but has only a printed list of items from their collection that people can browse. The books are kept in a caged area, where the librarian´s desk is, and cannot be checked out. Half the books are purchased with a small budget from the city government, the other half are donated books.
Miguel Asturias Academy Library
By contrast, the school library at the private Miguel Asturias Academy is unique in all of Guatemala. Schools in Central America don´t usually have a library. Because of the partnership with Librarians without Borders (LWB), this school library is similar to what would be found at a school in the U.S. There are new, attractive children´s books on low shelves that children can browse and select for themselves. Cushions on the floor make for cozy seating. The collections are divided by reading level. Classes visit the library regularly every week. Students currently cannot check books out, but the school is trying to find a way to do that electronically for the students. They do allow students to take books home overnight if they need them for assignments.
Most of the books in the school library´s collection have come from donations from Libraries without Borders. Before that help, they were only able to purchase one or two new books for the library per year.
Information is from a 2015 blog post by Debbie Chavez
Get your raffle ticket for a Barn Quilt at the library. The winner will be selected at the Fall Festival, October 14.
Thank you to all our volunteers! If you want to become a volunteer, inquire at the library or email [email protected]
Next Board of Trustees meeting: September 11, 2017, 6 p.m. at the library.